This cocktail came about the other year after reading The world of the Shining prince; court life in ancient Japan by Ivan Morris(here) for the second time, making yet another kimonojacket and as so often dipping in and out of The pillow book by Sei Shonagon.
Morris was a professor in history specializing in the Heian era. His book is a great introduction before reading The pillow book as well as Shonagons more well-known contemporary Lady Murasaki; author of Tale of Genji and also The diary of Lady Murasaki. The women, as we see them through their own writings, had different temperaments and personalities. The diary of Lady Murasaki is just that, a diary. A pillow book, as that of Shonagon, is a collection of random notes,observations,lists and anecdotes. There are different schools of thought on how the notes should be arranged actually. Morris is more lenient towards Murasaki but in the edition that I read the foreword(the book was originally published in the 60’s) has a more modern view on the two.
Personally I enjoy the Pillowbook more as it feels very modern but I’m fascinated by them both and will one day read The tale of Genji. What Morris does with expertise and great ease is explain why the women had black teeth, or how those rice-paper houses with constant fires being lit for warmth felt moving around in. Oh, and the intricacies of the politics of that world. I recommend it warmly.
My love of kimono jackets and endless admiration of actual kimonos must at some point be addressed. The one I made on that occasion was made from an IKEA blanket in purple,orange and yellow. It has served me well as a jacket in spring and autumn as well as being used as a cardigan around the house in winter. And it did get me thinking about cocktails named after garments; I knew about “the Tuxedo-cocktail” and “The japanese slipper” and some research yielded “The blue blazer” and a few others. So there were was precedent.
I based it on smokey whiskey, Laproaigh to be exact, as a reference to the smokey environments that they lived in and houses on a regular basis burning to the ground. I don’t know where the Amaretto came from but the orange liqueur was to tie-in the many notes of fruit and scents in The Pillowbook. I used a home made orange liqueur made with a vanilla bean that is lovely and floral. However that is not available to everyone so when I made it now I used a mix of Cointreau and vanilla syrup. The cherry and orange peel are as symbols for the cherry tree and the orange tree that was at the gates to the palace. The Peychaud’s bitter also comes from that. Oddly enough no japanese ingredients in it but japanese spirits are hard to come by up here.
Let 2,5 dl of water and 2,5 dl of caster sugar simmer for 15 minutes with 2 cm of a fresh vanilla bean. Don’t remove the bean until the syrup has cooled. Pour into a clean bottle and use within two weeks.
Kimono-cocktail;yields one cocktail
4 cl of smokey whiskey
1 cl Amaretto
1 cl Cointreau
2 barspoons of vanilla syrup
2 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
chilled cocktail glass
1.Stir the ingredients in a stirring glass full of ice until well chilled
2.Strain into the glass.
3. Add the cherry. Twist the zest over the glass to release the oils and then add it to the drink.
4. Enjoy responsibly.